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entitled 'District Of Columbia: More Details Needed on Plans to 
Integrate Computer Systems With the Family Court and Use Federal Funds' 
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United States General Accounting Office: 
GAO: 

Report to Congressional Committees: 

August 2002: 

District Of Columbia: 

More Details Needed on Plans to Integrate Computer Systems With the 
Family Court and Use Federal Funds: 

GAO-02-948: 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

The Mayor’s Plan Contains Useful Information, but Effectiveness is
Contingent on Resolving Critical Issues and Implementing Disciplined 
Processes: 

The Mayor’s Plan Provides Limited Detail on Social Workers’ 
Implementation of Family Court Reform: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Comments from the City Administrator of the District of 
Columbia: 

Appendix III: GAO Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contacts: 

Acknowledgments: 

Related GAO Products: 

Table: 

Table 1: The Mayor’s Plan to Spend $500,000 in Appropriated Funds for 
CFSA Social Workers to Implement Family Court Reform: 

Abbreviations: 

CFSA: Child and Family Services Agency: 

IT: Information Technology: 

SPIS: Safe Passages Information Suite: 

[End of section] 

United States General Accounting Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

August 7, 2002: 

The Honorable Mary Landrieu: 
Chairwoman: 
The Honorable Mike DeWine: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on the District of Columbia: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Joe Knollenberg: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Chaka Fattah: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on the District of Columbia: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

Reviews of the District of Columbia’s (the District) Child and Family
Services Agency (CFSA) have identified significant problems in the child
welfare system. Congress took steps to help address these problems 
through passage of the D.C. Family Court Act of 2001. This act reformed
court practices and established procedures intended to improve
interactions between the court and social service agencies in the 
District. The act also directed the Mayor to prepare a plan for 
integrating the computer systems of District agencies with those of the 
Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The 
fiscal year 2002 D.C. Appropriations Act authorized $200,000 for the 
completion of a plan on integrating the computer systems and $500,000 
for CFSA to use for social workers to implement family court reform. 
The Appropriations Act also required the Mayor to prepare a plan for 
the use of these funds and mandated that the plan be issued on July 8, 
2002. Additionally, the Appropriations Act required us to analyze the 
Mayor’s plan within 30 days after its issuance. Because the 
appropriated funds will not be available until after our report is 
issued, the District used its own funds for the completed activities. 

This report contains the results of our analyses. Our objectives were to
(1) assess the contents and effectiveness of the Mayor’s plan for
integrating computer systems of District agencies with those of the 
Family Court, including the planned use of the $200,000 in appropriated 
funds, and (2) analyze the Mayor’s plan for using the $500,000 in 
appropriated funds for CFSA social workers to implement family court 
reform. To achieve these objectives within the required timeframe, we 
limited our work to a review of the plan and interviews with court 
officials in the District and court officials from two other states, 
New Jersey and Virginia, which have undertaken efforts to integrate 
computer systems of courts with social services. We also interviewed 
officials from several key District agencies, including the Mayor’s 
office; CFSA; the Departments of Human Services, Mental Health, and 
Health; the Office of Corporation Counsel; and the Office of the Chief 
Technology Officer. In addition, we examined documents related to the 
policies and practices of several District social service agencies. To 
supplement our analysis of the plan, we obtained comments on the 
Mayor’s plan from officials of the American Bar Association and the 
Virginia Supreme Court’s court improvement program. We conducted our 
work from May through July 2002 in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. 

Results in Brief: 

The Mayor’s plan provides useful information on the District’s 
integration efforts with the Family Court, but the effectiveness of the 
plan is contingent on resolving several critical issues. The plan 
includes such useful information as (1) an outline of the District’s 
current health and human services information technology (IT) 
environment and its information needs and limitations regarding the 
Family Court, (2) planned and possible short- and long-term initiatives 
to integrate the District’s computer systems with those of the Family 
Court, (3) five technological integration priorities, and (4) how the 
$200,000 in appropriated funds will be spent. However, the plan does 
not contain important elements that, while not explicitly required by 
the Family Court Act or the fiscal year 2002 D.C. Appropriations Act, 
would enhance the usefulness of the plan. For example, the plan does 
not include project milestones for achieving the five integration 
priorities. Moreover, the District has not yet completed essential 
analyses, such as a requirements analysis, that would provide the basis 
for this additional information. Furthermore, many of the solutions to 
achieving integration with the Family Court discussed in the plan are
depicted only as proposals or options; thus, the plan is not always 
definitive about exactly how it will achieve the five integration 
priorities. In addition, the effectiveness of the plan will hinge in 
large part on the District’s ability to overcome significant hurdles, 
including ensuring the appropriate confidentiality of electronic 
records and the quality of data exchanged with the Family Court. 
Although the Mayor’s plan discusses these issues, it does not always 
provide solutions or discuss how such solutions will be found. Another 
essential factor that will determine the effectiveness of the plan is 
the District’s use of disciplined IT management processes (i.e., those 
that maximize performance while reducing risk) in planning, developing, 
and implementing its long-term system integration strategy. Our work at 
federal agencies and private entities has found that the use of such 
processes is critical to the success of major system efforts. As for 
the $200,000 authorized for the completion of the computer systems
integration plan, the Mayor’s plan identifies $158,000 for the 
development of the plan and $42,000 as reserved for certain future 
planning activities related to elements of the Mayor’s plan. 

Based on our analysis of the Mayor’s plan for using the $500,000 in
appropriated funds, it is not clear how the funds are to be used for 
CFSA’s social workers to implement family court reform, as required by 
law. The plan discusses the District’s use of funds for service 
liaison, on-site coordination, and border agreement activities, in 
general terms, but provides no detail on whether and how these 
activities involve the use of CFSA’s social workers. For example, in 
discussing the liaison activities, the plan describes training for 
magistrate judges but does not define the type of training or state 
whether social workers will be involved. As for the plan’s description 
of the on-site coordination activities, while it describes the agencies 
that will be involved, it provides limited or no information on 
essential issues such as the costs, types of services that will be 
provided, or whether social workers will be on-site. 

To keep the Congress fully informed, we recommend that the Mayor
periodically report to the Congress on the District’s progress in 
integrating its computer systems with those of the Family Court. These 
reports should provide milestones, including those associated with 
completing the essential analyses and addressing the critical issues 
and disciplined IT management practices discussed in this report, and 
the District’s progress in achieving them. Furthermore, more details 
are needed regarding the liaison, on-site coordination, and border 
agreement activities to ensure that appropriated funds are used as 
Congress intended. We recommend that the Mayor provide details to the 
Congress to show how the funds will be used for CFSA’s social workers 
to implement family court reform. 

The District’s City Administrator provided written comments on a draft 
of this report. In commenting on the draft, the City Administrator 
generally agreed with our findings and conclusions regarding the Mayor’s
integration plan and provided more information concerning the District’s
plans to spend the federal funds for social workers to implement family
court reform. The City Administrator did not directly address the 
recommendations. The comments are discussed in the report and are
shown in appendix II. 

Background: 

Both social service agencies and the courts play an important role in
addressing child welfare issues. In the District, CFSA, in conjunction 
with other agencies, provides important services to promote the safety 
and well being of children and families. CFSA coordinates public and 
private partnerships to preserve families and to protect children 
against abuse and neglect. The Family Court of the D.C. Superior Court 
has jurisdiction over child welfare cases. [Footnote 1] The Family 
Court judges oversee foster care and adoption cases and make decisions 
concerning the existence of maltreatment, the placement of children in 
state custody, and whether reasonable efforts have been made to 
preserve a family to avoid the need for foster care. Additionally, the 
court holds hearings to determine the appropriateness of the placement 
of a child in care, terminates parental rights, and finalizes 
adoptions. 

Effective child welfare systems have processes for collaborating and
sharing information among the agencies that provide child welfare-
related services to children and families, such as mental health 
services and substance abuse treatment. Like many other jurisdictions, 
the District has faced challenges in its ability to share information 
across agencies. In previous work, we reported that CFSA’s operations 
have been affected by the lack of integration of child welfare services 
with other support services. [Footnote 2] 

Additionally, it is important that the social service agencies and 
courts receive and share information they need on the children and 
families they serve. Caseworkers need to know from the court the status 
of a child’s case, when a hearing will take place, and a judge’s 
ruling. Family courts need case history information from caseworkers 
such as whether services have been provided, who is caring for the 
child, and if there has been evidence of abuse or neglect. However, 
CFSA and the District’s former Family Division of the Superior Court 
have had difficulty sustaining effective working relationships. 
[Footnote 3] As a result, cases moved slowly through the system, and 
decisions intended to improve the safety and well being of children and 
their families were delayed. 

In order to address some of the challenges the court and District 
agencies have faced, Congress passed the D.C. Family Court Act of 2001. 
The act reformed court practices and established procedures intended to 
improve interactions between the court and social service agencies in 
the District. Family court reform in the District includes several key 
components that require the direct involvement of CFSA and its social 
workers. One component involves revising case management practices 
through the implementation of the one family/one judge concept. 
[Footnote 4] Under this concept, the District’s Family Court plans to 
assign the same judge to all cases involving the same child and family, 
where practicable, feasible, and lawful. In addition, the Court has 
asked the Office of the Corporation Counsel to assign attorneys to 
particular judicial teams, comprised of a judge or magistrate judge. 
Judicial teams may also include social workers and parents’ attorneys, 
among other participants. Another key component of District Family 
Court reform will be on-site coordination of social services at the 
court. The Mayor must assign staff from several agencies to work on-
site at the Family Court. These agencies include CFSA, District of 
Columbia Public Schools, the Housing Authority, Office of Corporation
Counsel, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the Department of
Health. In addition, the Mayor must appoint a liaison between the Family
Court and the District government. The role of the family court liaison 
will be to coordinate the activities of CFSA’s social workers as well as
representatives of other District social service agencies at the Family
Court. The liaison is yet another key component of court reform in the
District. 

The Family Court Act required the Chief Judge of the Superior Court to
submit to Congress a transition plan discussing the transition to a 
Family Court. This plan was completed in April 2002, and in May 2002, 
we reported to Congress on this plan. [Footnote 5] Also, the act 
required the Mayor of the District of Columbia to submit a plan to 
Congress within 6 months of enactment of the Family Court Act, or on 
July 8, 2002, for the integration of District agency computer systems 
with those of the Family Court. Congress required us to prepare and 
submit within 30 days of the Mayor’s plan an analysis of the plan’s 
contents and effectiveness. 

On July 8, 2002, the Mayor issued the required plan: Supporting the 
Vision: Mayor’s Plan to Integrate the District of Columbia’s Social 
Services Information Systems with the Family Court of the D.C. Superior 
Court. The plan consists of two parts. Part I addresses the integration 
of social service agencies’ computer systems with the computer systems 
of the D.C. Family Court. This part of the plan focuses in large part 
on the District’s Safe Passages Information Suite (SPIS) initiative as 
a means of both integrating computer systems and social services within 
the District’s executive agencies as well as integrating these systems 
and services with those of the Family Court. We limited our review of 
SPIS to how it will be used to achieve integration with the Family 
Court. 

Part II of the plan describes the Mayor’s proposal for spending the
$700,000 appropriated by the 2002 D.C. Appropriations Act—$200,000 for
the completion of the plan to integrate computer systems and $500,000 to
CFSA for social workers to implement family court reform. According to
the Appropriations Act, these funds shall not be made available until 
the expiration of the 30-day period that begins on the date we submit 
our report to the Congress. However, because the 30-day period excludes
weekends, holidays, and days the Congress is adjourned for a period of
more than 3 days, these funds would not likely have been available until
after the start of fiscal year 2003. On August 2, 2002, a supplemental
appropriations act was passed specifying, among other things, that these
funds shall remain available until September 30, 2003. [Footnote 6] 
Since the federal funds have not been released, District officials 
reported that they used local funds to prepare the computer system 
integration plan and to plan or, in some cases, complete family court 
reform activities. 

The District estimated that the implementation of the Mayor’s entire 
plan to integrate social services’ computer systems with those of the 
Family Court, including short-term and long-term initiatives, will cost 
$18 million and be completed in 4 years. The District has approximately 
$4 million reserved for SPIS. 

The Mayor’s Plan Contains Useful Information, but Effectiveness is 
Contingent on Resolving Critical Issues and Implementing Disciplined 
Processes: 

The Mayor’s plan contains useful information on intended efforts to 
integrate the District’s computer systems with those of the Family 
Court, including the planned use of appropriated funds, but it does not 
contain important elements and its effectiveness is contingent on the 
District’s ability to resolve critical issues and implement disciplined 
IT management processes. Information on these additional elements, how 
critical issues are to be addressed, and how information technology is 
to be managed, while not explicitly be required by the Family Court Act 
or the Fiscal Year 2002 D.C. Appropriations Act, would enhance the 
usefulness of the Mayor’s plan. 

Plan Contains Useful Information but Does Not Include Elements 
Important to Assessing the Adequacy of the District’s Strategy: 

As required by the Family Court Act, the Mayor’s July 8 plan provides
information on integrating the computer systems of the District with 
those of the Family Court. According to the plan, the District 
identified the five integration priorities on the basis of its analysis 
of high-level requirements and best practice research. These 
integration priorities are (1) calendar management; [Footnote 7] (2) 
notification of the current status of cases, pending dates or deadlines 
and new events associated with cases, and case dispositions; (3) 
electronic document management of forms, reports, court orders, or any 
documents associated with a court case; (4) inquiry-level sharing of 
critical case information; [Footnote 8] and (5) reporting. Equally 
important, according to the D.C. Courts’ director, [Footnote 9] 
information technology division, the Family Court agrees with the 
integration priorities set forth in the Mayor’s plan. The Mayor’s plan 
also provides other useful information, such as a summary of the 
District’s current health and human services IT environment and its 
limitations, as well as descriptions of the types of information that 
various District offices need from the Family Court. Finally, the plan 
describes the Mayor’s approach for developing and implementing the SPIS 
initiative, which is central to the District’s achieving a long-term 
solution to both the integration of its health and human services 
systems with the Family Court’s systems and mitigating the current 
limitations of the District’s health and human services IT environment. 

Although the Mayor’s plan provides general descriptions of its current
environment and its future plans, it does not include important 
elements, such as project milestones, that, while not explicitly 
required by the Family Court Act, or the fiscal year 2002 D.C. 
Appropriations Act, are critical to assessing the adequacy of the 
District’s strategy. District IT officials noted that they have not yet 
completed essential analyses, such as an analysis of requirements that 
would provide the basis for this additional information. Specifically, 
the plan does not include the following: 

* Project milestones. Although the Mayor’s plan discusses a variety of
short- and long-term integration strategies, it does not contain 
milestones for completing these activities. Without milestones, the
Congress has neither the information necessary to assess whether the
initiatives discussed in the plan can be realistically accomplished nor
important criteria with which to measure the progress of the plan’s
implementation. According to District IT officials, the deadline for
submitting the Mayor’s plan to the Congress did not allow them enough
time to develop milestones. The officials also said that they expect to
develop a project plan that lays out the project components and 
milestones for the implementation of the Mayor’s plan by the end of the
calendar year. 

* Specification of integration requirements. The Family Court Act calls
for the District to integrate its computer systems with those of the 
Family Court but does not define integration. The term “integration”
can be defined in various ways [Footnote 10] and how it is defined can 
significantly affect how the system is designed and developed. Although 
the Mayor’s plan includes a set of integration principles, such as that 
integrated systems should improve information quality by eliminating 
redundant data entry, it does not include a definition of integration 
within the context of the Family Court Act. Defining integration for 
the SPIS project early in the planning process is critical because this 
definition will set the boundaries and help set expectations for the 
initiative and the individual projects that will make up this 
initiative. A District IT official agreed that developing an 
operational definition of integration is important and said that the 
District planned to establish one; however, the official did not know 
when this would be done. 

* How the District will integrate the systems of the specific offices
covered by the Family Court Act. The Family Court Act lists six
District offices that the Mayor’s plan is to address regarding accessing
and sharing information on individuals and families served by the
Family Court: the D.C. Public Schools, the D.C. Housing Authority,
CFSA, the Office of the Corporation Counsel, the Metropolitan Police
Department, and the Department of Health. [Footnote 11] Although the 
Mayor’s plan includes a general discussion of the types of information 
that each of these entities needs from the Family Court, the 
integration strategies laid out in the plan did not always address the 
extent to which the information needs of each of these entities will be 
addressed. For example, the plan discusses a short-term integration 
strategy for achieving inquiry-level sharing of critical case 
information with CFSA, but not for the other offices listed in the 
Family Court Act. District IT officials agreed that the plan does not 
fully define how the systems of each of the offices identified in the 
Family Court Act will be integrated with the Family Court’s systems and 
said that the District is still in the process of analyzing these 
offices’ needs and defining requirements. However, these officials also 
noted that the plan discusses short-term integration strategies with 
CSFA’s FACES system, a system that provides CFSA with unified case 
management and reporting, which they expect will be a major system 
involved in integrating the Family Court’s and the District’s health 
and human systems. 

* Details on the type of information the District will be providing to
the Family Court and how this will be achieved. The Mayor’s plan
includes a discussion of the Superior Court’s planned implementation
of the Integrated Justice Information System (IJIS), which is intended
to be the single point of integration for the District agencies’ 
interface with the courts. However, the plan does not specify the type 
of data that the District will be providing to IJIS or the District 
offices and systems that will be providing these data. Instead, the 
plan notes that the Superior Court will rely on its IJIS contractor to 
determine the detailed business requirements of the IJIS stakeholders, 
which includes the District offices. District IT officials explained 
that in developing the plan, they focused on what the District offices 
need from the Family Court, not what these offices needed to provide to 
the court. The officials said that time constraints prevented them from 
performing an in-depth review of what they need to provide to the 
Family Court, and they, therefore, did not include these requirements 
in the plan, but that the District is working closely with the courts 
to define these requirements. The D.C. Court’s director, information 
technology division, agreed that the Court and the District were 
working closely to define the interfaces between IJIS and the 
District’s systems and was complimentary about the level of cooperation 
from the District’s offices in performing this analysis. 

Finally, many of the solutions to achieving integration with the Family
Court discussed in the plan are depicted only as proposals or options;
thus, the plan is not always definitive about exactly how it will 
achieve the five integration priorities. For example, to achieve the 
integration priority of electronic document management, the Mayor’s 
plan lists four options that a cross-organizational team that is to be 
assembled is expected to evaluate. District IT officials said that the 
merits and details associated with these proposals and options will be 
further defined as part of the SPIS framework development project. 
However, until the District decides which, if any, of these proposals 
and options it will implement, the Congress will not have critical 
information with which to evaluate the feasibility and completeness of 
the District’s plan. 

Effectiveness of the Plan Hinges on Resolving Critical Issues and 
Implementing Disciplined Processes: 

The Mayor’s plan assumes that certain issues, such as ensuring the
confidentiality of certain records and data quality, will be 
successfully resolved without explaining how this will be achieved. 
These issues are formidable, and the effectiveness and ultimate success 
of the Mayor’s plan will largely depend on the District’s ability to 
overcome them. Among the critical issues that must be successfully 
addressed to help ensure the effectiveness of the Mayor’s plan are the 
following: 

* Confidentiality/privacy issues. As in other jurisdictions, laws and
regulations govern the sharing of data in many District social services
programs. For example, federal legislation relating to student
educational records [Footnote 12] and mental and physical health 
information [Footnote 13] provides privacy protection for and limits 
access to such information. Upon reviewing the Mayor’s plan, the 
American Bar Association’s directors of child welfare and research 
noted that the District should address this critical issue as soon as 
possible to enable data integration to go forward. The Mayor’s plan 
recognizes the criticality of data confidentiality issues, but does not 
provide solutions or alternatives, although the plan indicates that 
there is a mayoral committee addressing the confidentiality 
restrictions affecting SPIS data sharing. If not resolved early in the 
planning stage, confidentiality issues are likely to significantly 
limit the functionality and flexibility of SPIS and consequently its 
integration with the Family Court system. 

* Data quality issues. To be effective, systems must contain high-
quality data (e.g., data that are accurate, complete, consistent, and 
timely). The importance of this issue is illustrated in our prior 
reports in which we have noted that data accuracy, completeness, and 
timeliness problems have hampered the District’s program management and 
operations. [Footnote 14] The Mayor’s plan recognizes problems with one 
significant element of data quality—ensuring consistency—and proposes 
developing common identifiers for persons receiving District services 
as a necessary, albeit difficult, step in integrating social service IT 
systems in the District. However, the plan does not address or propose 
remedies for known data accuracy and completeness problems that must be 
resolved to ensure the success of the District’s Family Court 
integration efforts. For example, according to the Mayor’s plan, the 
FACES system is paramount to the success of the SPIS initiative. 
However, our December 2000 report noted that this system lacked complete
information, [Footnote 15] and according to CFSA’s Director, while the 
situation has improved, as of mid-June this problem still existed. 

* Current legacy system limitations. [Footnote 16] According to the 
Mayor’s plan, the District has disparate information systems that are 
built on a number of different technology platforms with varying 
limitations. These limitations vary and include systems that (1) have 
limited functionality; (2) use old technology and require extensive 
work to maintain or upgrade them; and (3) do not have, or have limited,
external interfaces (in some cases because of confidentiality
concerns). Under the SPIS initiative, the District plans to use a
commercial middleware tool [Footnote 17] along with data marts 
[Footnote 18] to synchronize case file attributes across systems and 
bridge multiple hardware and software system differences. Although this 
may be an appropriate strategy, the use of middleware and data marts 
would still require the District to address the limitations of its 
underlying legacy systems. For example, according to Gartner, Inc., a 
leading private research firm, while the use of middleware has 
advantages, there are legacy system issues, such as data inconsistency 
and synchronization and ownership issues that would still have to be 
addressed. [Footnote 19] Therefore, unless the District identifies and 
overcomes the limitations of these legacy systems, the functionality 
and performance of SPIS could be negatively affected. 

* Human capital. Critical to the success of any IT project is 
identifying and effectively using human capital. The overall estimated 
demand for IT workers remains high, and shortcomings in IT human capital
management can have serious ramifications. The Mayor’s plan states
that the District has a wide range of technological improvement 
priorities and that SPIS is just one of many strategic priorities. These
priorities will require IT personnel with a myriad of skills, which may
be acquired through a variety of approaches, including the use of 
contractors. Accordingly, acquiring, retaining, and effectively managing
the right people with the right skills are key to the success of the
District’s integration effort. 

Another key to the effectiveness of the Mayor’s plan is developing and
using disciplined processes in keeping with IT management best 
practices. We and others have issued guides that discuss IT management 
practices used by leading organizations [Footnote 20] and frameworks 
for measuring an organization’s progress in implementing critical 
processes. [Footnote 21] These processes are especially important for 
projects such as SPIS, in which new ground is being broken. 

According to the District’s research, there are currently no examples of
robust, two-way electronic information exchanges between social service
agencies and court systems readily adaptable. The American Bar
Association’s directors of child welfare and research also noted that 
they know of no robust examples of data exchanges between courts and 
child protection agencies. Such an uncertain and high-risk environment
underscores the need to implement disciplined IT management practices
to manage and mitigate risks. In addition to SPIS, using disciplined IT
processes is important to the successful development of other new
systems discussed in the Mayor’s plan that are either in the planning 
or development stages. For example, according to the plan, the 
Metropolitan Police Department is in the early planning stages for a 
reporting and information delivery system that it expects to implement 
in early 2004 that the District believes should be a target system for 
the Family Court in its integration planning. 

In the past, we have reported that the District has not implemented
disciplined IT management processes and, as a result, the District has 
had difficulties developing, acquiring, and implementing new systems. 
[Footnote 22] To avoid similar problems with the SPIS project, the 
following are examples of IT management processes that are critical for 
the District to employ to help ensure that its investment is utilized 
wisely and results in a system that meets its objectives in a timely 
and cost-effective manner. 

* Use of a life-cycle model. The District has not adopted a life-cycle
model in developing SPIS that defines expectations for managing IT 
investments from conception, development, and deployment through 
maintenance and support. Life-cycle models require organizations to
carefully manage risks such as an unrealistic schedule and budget
expectations. Without such a model, processes for software development 
and acquisition will likely remain ad hoc and not adhere to generally 
accepted standards. Critical to the success of SPIS are the adoption of 
a life-cycle model and the development of a plan to institutionalize 
and enforce its use. According to an IT official, the District has 
drafted a life-cycle model that is being tested on other system 
development activities. 

* Development of an enterprise architecture. The development and use of 
enterprise architectures is a best practice in IT management that 
leading public and private organizations follow. An enterprise 
architecture, which is a well-defined and enforced blueprint for 
operational and technological change, provides a clear and 
comprehensive picture of an entity or a functional or mission area that
cuts across more than one organization—in this case, the child and 
family social services function. An enterprise architecture consists of
three integrated components: a snapshot of the enterprise’s current 
operational and technological environment, a snapshot of its target 
environment, and a capital investment roadmap for transitioning from
the current to the target environment. Our experience with federal
agencies has shown that attempting a major modernization effort
without a complete and enforceable enterprise architecture results in
systems that are duplicative, are not well integrated, are unnecessarily
costly to maintain and interface, and do not effectively optimize
mission performance. [Footnote 23] According to an IT official, because 
of its
complex environment, the District plans to develop an evolving
enterprise architecture in components. This official further said that
when the enterprise architecture will be completed would be based, in
part, on available funding. Proceeding without this enterprise
architecture, the District’s SPIS initiative would be at higher risk of 
not meeting its objectives. 

The risk associated with the District’s lack of an enterprise 
architecture is compounded by its plan to develop, in parallel, an SPIS
framework and a pilot program. Specifically, the District plans to
(1) develop an SPIS framework, which would include identifying and
prioritizing agencies and business processes to be supported by SPIS,
the design and documentation of the “to be” business environment,
and the identification and sequencing of specific SPIS projects; and
(2) pilot aspects of SPIS functionality at two District offices (the
functions to be piloted have not yet been determined). Completing
these projects in parallel is risky since the District would be 
designing, developing, and implementing systems before it has 
identified its current needs and developed a plan to achieve them. 

* Use of adequate security measures. A basic management objective for
any organization is to protect its data from unauthorized access and
prevent improper modification, disclosure, or deletion of financial and
sensitive information. Accordingly, implementing adequate security
measures to achieve this objective is of paramount importance,
particularly for projects such as SPIS that are expected to contain
sensitive personal information. However, we have previously reported 
serious and pervasive computer security weaknesses in the District. 
[Footnote 24] The Mayor’s plan recognizes the importance of computer 
security in implementing the SPIS and sets forth seven strategies for 
ensuring a secure environment, such as limiting the number of 
authorized users and strong user training programs. The effective 
implementation of adequate security measures will be a critical factor 
in ensuring the success of the SPIS project. 

Finally, major IT investments should be supported by a well-developed
business case that evaluates the expected returns against the costs. Our
guidance on IT investment management calls for agencies to identify the
expected costs and benefits of proposed investments. [Footnote 25] We 
are concerned about whether the District will perform this type of 
analysis. According to an IT official, the District is not planning to 
complete a formal cost/benefit analysis nor an analysis of alternatives 
in support of its Family Court integration strategy. Instead, the 
District plans to rely on professional judgment in assessing potential 
solutions within available resources. Moreover, with respect to 
analyzing alternatives, this official said that the District lacks 
staff resources and funding to conduct such an analysis. However, 
without an explicit understanding of the expected costs and benefits up 
front, the District lacks the basis for sound financial and strategic 
decisions and a baseline against which managers and executives can 
measure progress. 

Costs of Completing the Computer Integration Plan Include Planned 
Expenditures for Related Activities: 

Of the $700,000 appropriated for fiscal year 2002 in conjunction with 
the Family Court Act, $200,000 is designated in the Mayor’s spending 
plan to support the development of a plan integrating the computer 
systems of the District government with those of the Family Court. The 
spending plan identifies $158,000 of this $200,000 for the “development 
of the plan” and $42,000 for “implementation planning.” 

The $158,000 for the development of the Mayor’s computer integration 
plan has, according to the spending plan, provided for a project team 
consisting of District and contracted staff. The spending plan lists 
activities involved in the development of the plan; however, it does 
not associate costs with these activities. For example, the budget for 
the development of the plan has provided for a project team to perform
activities such as the identification of the stakeholders and District
agencies affected by the Family Court legislation, the completion of the
technological gap analysis of District interactions with the Court, and 
the assessment of available technologies to enhance data integration, 
but there are no costs associated with these steps. 

The remaining $42,000 budgeted for implementation planning, according
to the spending plan, is being reserved to perform certain other 
activities including preparation of cost estimates for components of 
the plan, prioritization of the components, and the development of an
implementation time line. The activities are important steps in 
developing the plan for integrating the District and Family Court 
computer systems. 

The Mayor’s Plan Provides Limited Detail on Social Workers’ 
Implementation of Family Court Reform: 

The Family Court Act places several requirements on the Mayor. The act
requires the Mayor, in consultation with the Chief Judge of the Superior
Court, to ensure that representatives of the appropriate offices of the
District of Columbia government that provide social services and other
related services to individuals served by the Family Court are 
available onsite at the Family Court; to provide information to the 
Chief Judge of the Superior Court and to the Presiding Judge of the 
Family Court regarding the services of the District government that are 
available for the individuals and families served by the Family Court; 
and to appoint an individual to serve as a liaison between the Family 
Court and the District government for ensuring that the representatives 
of the appropriate offices are available on-site at the Family Court. 
Additionally, the Family Court Act urged that the District enter into a 
border agreement to facilitate the placement of children in the D.C. 
child welfare system in homes and facilities in Maryland and Virginia. 

The 2002 D.C. Appropriations Act provided $500,000 to the Mayor “for the
Child and Family Services Agency to be used for social workers to
implement Family Court reform.” The Mayor states that these 
appropriated funds will be used to support his responsibilities under 
the Family Court Act and identifies three categories for the use of the 
funds. The three categories are (1) liaison activities, (2) on-site 
coordination of services and information, and (3) border agreements. 
The plan indicates that the appropriated funds will be used as 
specified in table 1. 

Table 1: The Mayor’s Plan to Spend $500,000 in Appropriated Funds for 
CFSA Social Workers to Implement Family Court Reform: 

Category: Service liaison activities; 
Planned expenditures: $290,000. 

Category: On-site coordination of services and information; 
Planned expenditures: $54,000. 

Category: Border agreement; 
Planned expenditures: $131,000. 

Category: Other[A]; 
Planned expenditures: $25,000. 

Category: Total; 
Planned expenditures: $500,000. 

[A] While the plan lists $25,000 separately, its use is described as 
also for family court service liaison activities. 

Source: Supporting the Vision: Mayor’s Plan to Integrate the District 
of Columbia’s Social Services Information Systems with the Family Court 
of the D.C. Superior Court, July 8, 2002. 

[End of table] 

The three categories listed in the Mayor’s plan and our analyses are as
follows. 

* Liaison Activities. The plan does not provide the details necessary to
show how CFSA social workers will be involved in these activities, as
required for these activities to be funded from the $500,000 designated
by the D.C. Appropriations Act. For example, the plan lists staff time
for preparation and presentation of magistrate judge training and
upcoming training for family court personnel as a liaison activity. 
While Family Court officials said that this training involved CFSA 
social workers, the Mayor’s plan does not clearly state whether social
workers will be involved, define the type of training, or describe how
these expenditures will support CFSA social worker family court
reform activities. 

* On-Site Coordination of Services and Information. According to the
Mayor’s plan the family court liaison will coordinate the activities of
representatives from CFSA as well as representatives of other District
social service agencies at the Family Court. However, the plan does
not describe how the funded activities involve the use of social
workers to implement family court reform. 

Furthermore, the Mayor’s plan provides limited information on issues 
essential to coordinating services. According to national court 
associations, an effective approach for establishing and sustaining
operational integration among agencies includes (1) establishing 
interagency policies for coordinating on-site social services; (2) 
specifying the types of services to be provided by each participating 
agency; and (3) identifying the financial, human capital, computer, and 
other resources to support coordinated services. The Mayor’s plan 
provides limited information on these essential issues. The plan states 
that agency representatives will be available to the court and that 
computer support at the court will be provided. However, the plan does 
not describe planning efforts with the Family Court on related space 
and facilities requirements, costs associated with service 
coordination, the types of services that will be provided, or the 
number of staff that will be on-site. It does not indicate whether the 
CFSA staff on-site will include social workers. Family Court officials 
said that planning on-site services coordination with District offices 
is in its early phases and that service representatives from District 
offices will face challenges in identifying and coordinating social 
services for children and families served by the Family Court. 

* Border Agreement. The Mayor plans to use $131,000 of the $500,000
designated in the D.C. Appropriations Act for border agreement 
activities, such as negotiating an agreement with surrounding 
jurisdictions. While a border agreement may benefit District efforts to
achieve more timely placement of District children in Maryland and
Virginia, border agreement activities included in the Mayor’s plan do
not specify how CFSA social workers will be involved in the process or
how their involvement relates to family court reform. 

Conclusions: 

Integrating the computer systems of District agencies with those of the
Family Court as well as other aspects of family court reform are complex
and will take years to complete. Much of the complexity stems from the
critical issues upon which successful family court reform depends and 
the need for disciplined IT management processes to mitigate the risks 
posed by these issues. This complexity coupled with the multiyear 
completion timeframe makes planning the computer systems integration 
and other key elements of court reform difficult. In spite of the 
difficulty, the Mayor’s plan provides a useful overview of the 
District’s current health and human services IT environment, the 
current vision for integrating its health and human services computer 
systems with those of the Family Court, and how it intends to use funds 
that were appropriated for planning computer systems integration. 
However, the plan does not contain important details that, while not 
explicitly required by the Family Court Act or the fiscal year 2002 
D.C. Appropriations Act, would enhance the usefulness of the plan by 
providing information that would facilitate an assessment of its 
feasibility and effectiveness. Information on project milestones, for
example, could help the District and the Congress assess progress in
implementing court reform and serve as an early warning system if a key
milestone is not met. 

Furthermore, it is not clear in the plan how the $500,000 in 
appropriated funds are to be used for CFSA’s social workers to 
implement family court reform, as required by law. More details 
regarding the liaison, on-site coordination, and border agreement 
activities are needed to ensure that appropriated funds are used as 
Congress intended. 

Recommendations: 

To keep the Congress fully informed about the District’s progress in
implementing court reform, we recommend that the Mayor periodically
report to the Congress on the District’s progress in integrating its
computer systems with those of the Family Court. These reports should
provide milestones, including those associated with completing the
essential analyses and addressing the critical issues and disciplined IT
management practices discussed in this report, and the District’s 
progress in achieving them. 

To help ensure that the planned expenditures support the purpose 
designated in the D.C. Appropriations Act, we recommend that the Mayor
provide more details to the Congress to show how the $500,000 will be
used for social workers to implement family court reform. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We received written comments on a draft of this report from the City
Administrator of the District of Columbia. These comments are in
appendix II. The City Administrator generally agreed with our findings
related to the Mayor’s integration plan and offered to answer any 
further questions regarding the use of the $500,000 for CFSA for social 
workers to implement family court reform. However, the City 
Administrator did not directly address our recommendations. 

Regarding the Mayor’s integration plan, the City Administrator agreed 
that the successful execution of the plan is contingent on resolving 
critical issues and implementing disciplined processes. The 
administrator also said that the District is faced with daunting 
complexity in planning, designing, building, and implementing the 
capabilities described in the Mayor’s plan and recognized that it must 
exercise responsible planning for resources by conducting detailed 
planning and financial analyses of proposed information system 
improvements. Accordingly, the City Administrator reported that during 
the next 6 months the District plans to complete more detailed scope 
definitions, specification of integration requirements, timelines and 
milestones, and cost analyses of the planned integration activities. 

As for the plans to spend the $500,000, the City Administrator provided
information that better explains how some of the activities will involve
CFSA’s social workers. However, there are still some activities for 
which more detail is needed. For example, the comments note that the 
Mayor began cross-agency planning for coordination of services and 
information and list various related activities. Two of these 
activities appear to directly involve social workers—(1) training for 
CFSA social workers, OCC attorneys and others, and (2) analysis of 
cases to be transferred to the family court by CFSA social workers. 
However, it is still unclear the extent that the other 
activities—development of the CFSA-OCC pilot and changes to the CFSA 
court liaison functions—will involve CFSA social workers. The City 
Administrator also discussed a CFSA and Family Court pilot project 
designed to assess whether a particular approach to case assignment 
would shorten the road to permanency for children. This activity was 
not included in the Mayor’s plan. 

As for the border agreement, the comments address three activities
included in the Mayor’s plan—negotiating the agreement, staffing, and
implementing the agreement. Although the City Administrator stated that
senior staff from the agency continues to be personally involved in the
negotiations with Maryland officials, the comments do not indicate
whether or how social workers are involved. It would appear that this
activity does not directly involve social workers. Furthermore, 
according to the comments, the District agreed to fund two positions in 
Maryland, including one social worker. The City Administrator does not 
state the nature of the other position nor does he state that the 
social worker will be a CFSA social worker. However, the comments note 
that the costs of implementing the agreement will include funds to 
expedite licensing of CFSA social workers in Maryland. 

Because the City Administrator did not specifically address our
recommendations in his comments, we continue to think it is important
that the District keep the Congress informed of its progress in 
integrating its computer systems with those of the Family Court and 
that the Mayor provide more detail to show how the appropriated funds 
will be used for social workers to implement family court reform. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Office of Management and
Budget, the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, 
Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, Senate Committee on 
Governmental Affairs; and the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia,
House Committee on Government Reform. We are also sending copies to
the Mayor of the District of Columbia; the Deputy Mayor for Children, 
Youth, Families, and Elders; the Chief Technology Officer; the Director 
of the Child and Family Services Agency; the Chief Judge of the Family 
Court of the District of Columbia Superior Court; and other District 
agencies. Copies of this report will also be made available to others 
upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on 
the GAO Web site at [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you have any questions about this report, please contact me on (202)
512-8403. Other contacts and staff acknowledgments are listed in 
appendix III. 

Signed by: 

Cornelia M. Ashby: 
Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To assess the contents and effectiveness of the District of Columbia 
Mayor’s plan to integrate the computer systems of District agencies with
those of the D.C. Family Court, we reviewed and analyzed the Mayor’s 
plan. As part of this analysis, we (1) reviewed the requirements for the
plan set forth in the Family Court Act and the fiscal year 2002 D.C. 
Appropriations Act; (2) reviewed our prior reports and IT management
best practice guidance; and (3) interviewed appropriate District IT
officials, including the Chief Technology Officer and programmatic 
officials, such as the Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth, Families and
Elders. We also interviewed the Director of the D.C. Courts’ information
technology division and reviewed documents related to the court’s system
development effort, the Integrated Justice Information System. In 
addition, we obtained comments on the Mayor’s plan from officials of 
the American Bar Association and the Virginia Supreme Court’s court 
improvement program. 

To analyze the Mayor’s spending plans for integrating computer systems
and supporting Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) social workers’
efforts to implement family court reform, we (1) reviewed the District’s
spending plans, (2) interviewed and obtained information from officials 
in the District’s Office of Chief Technology Officer and CFSA, and (3) 
reviewed legislation related to the $700,000 in federal funds provided 
in the District’s Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2002. We did not
independently verify or audit the cost information provided from 
District officials. We also interviewed program officials from the 
Child and Family Services Agency; the Departments of Human Services, 
Mental Health, and Health; the Office of Corporation Counsel; the 
Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the Mayor’s office; and 
District of Columbia Public Schools. In addition, we interviewed court 
experts in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 
American Bar Association, Council for Court Excellence, and officials 
from two other states, New Jersey and Virginia, that have undertaken 
efforts to integrate computer systems of courts with social services. 
We also examined documents related to policies of several District 
social service agencies and the District’s Family Court. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Comments from the City Administrator of the District of 
Columbia: 

Government Of The District Of Columbia: 
Executive Office: 
Office Of The City Administrator: 

August 2, 2002: 

Cornelia M. Ashby: 
Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues: 
U.S. General Accounting Office 441 G Street, NW: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Dear Ms. Ashby: 

The purpose of this correspondence is to respond to your request for 
additional information on the District of Columbia's plans to integrate 
computer systems with the Family Court of the Superior Court of the 
District of Columbia and use of Federal funds. 

The District of Columbia government appreciates the feedback the 
General Accounting Office (GAO) has provided to the District in 
response to our report: "Supporting the Vision: Mayor's Plan to 
Integrate the District of Columbia's Social Services Information 
Systems with the Family Court of the D.C. Superior Court." 

GAO Finding #1, "The Mayor's Plan contains useful information, but 
effectiveness is contingent on resolving critical issues and 
implementing disciplined processes" 

The District has been committed to successive improvements in its cross-
agency information systems supporting health and human services for 
more than three years. In response to the Family Court Act, the 
District is in the process of improving information exchange between 
the Courts and District agencies as a fundamental element of these 
District-wide initiatives. We are pleased with the strong partnership 
that has emerged in the context of the new Family Court Act, between 
District service agencies and the Court in the area of court services 
and operations, but also in the area of information system strategies. 
Because the District is endeavoring to accommodate the Court's 
timelines in its own planning for information system improvements, some 
imprecision in planning timelines is inevitable at this stage. 

We agree that the successful execution of the plan is contingent on 
resolving critical issues and implementing disciplined processes. The 
issues identified by GAO include confidentiality, data quality, legacy 
system limitations and availability of skilled human capital. From our 
research, which was confirmed by the GAO's research, these are national 
issues confront State and local governments. In terms of 
confidentiality, it is our hope that Congress will support the 
District's efforts to enact legislative changes that will facilitate 
the appropriate exchange of confidential and private information within 
government agencies serving the Family Court population. In order to 
address many of the remaining issues, we will need the support of 
Congress to fund the integration capabilities detailed in our report. 

We recognize that we are faced with daunting complexity in planning, 
designing, building, and implementing the capabilities described in our 
Plan. The GAO rightly challenges the District to apply precision and 
discipline to the processes and procedures used to structure projects, 
to select and implement tools, to select and manage technical staff and 
consultants, to manage resources, and to monitor timeliness of 
performance and quality of results. We will be applying the District's 
best practice life cycle model and proven project management tools and 
procedures to this Court information system integration effort. We will 
be developing critical enterprise architecture components that 
integrate with the larger architecture of the District-wide technology 
and operational infrastructure. 

The District recognizes that it must exercise responsible planning for 
resources by conducting detailed planning and financial analyses of 
proposed information system improvements. At the same time, the 
District recognizes that the benefits of integration of District social 
services information systems with the Family Court may be more 
qualitative than quantitative and thus difficult to quantify. That 
being said, the District remains committed to detailed cost analysis 
before embarking on capitol IT projects related to integration 
strategies to be sure that investments are made wisely. 

During the next six months the District plans to complete more detailed 
scope definitions, specification of integration requirements, timelines 
and milestones, cost analyses of the planned integration activities. We 
anticipate the entire integration initiative to take two to three 
years. 

GAO Finding #2. "Mayor's Plan provides limited details on social 
workers' implementation of Family Court Reform" 

Both the service liaison and on-site coordination of services functions 
required by the Family Court Act of 200I will be available to Child and 
Family Service Agency (CFSA) social workers in identifying appropriate 
services and the need for interagency resources, facilitating the 
exchange of information among agencies and expediting service referrals 
on-site. The liaison will serve as an important single point of contact 
to CFSA social workers in ensuring that other District agencies 
identified in the Family Court Act are regularly providing liaison 
staff participation and contract, service and policy data as requested. 
This in turn will allow case-carrying social workers more time to 
provide direct services and conduct the necessary clinical assessments 
that will directly benefit children and families. 

Under the District's plan, CFSA plans to dedicate on-site court liaison 
staff for the service of court reports, obtaining and processing of 
court orders, including the entry of information related to court 
orders, again supporting case-carrying social workers on court related 
activities. In addition, pending space availability at the Family 
Court, at least one dedicated staff member will be assigned to work on-
site from the following agencies: District of Columbia Public Schools, 
the Housing Authority, Office of Corporation Counsel, the Metropolitan 
Police Department, the Department of Mental Health, and the Department 
of Health. These agencies will also be responsible for dedicating staff 
to serve on an interagency task force for establishing policies and 
procedures for coordinating on-site referrals and service delivery. 

Beginning in January, the Mayor began the cross-agency planning for 
coordination of services and information. Included was training 
activities for CFSA social workers, OCC attorneys and other agency 
employees who support social workers; development of the CFSA-OCC pilot 
with the Court; and changes to the CFSA court liaison function which 
directly supports social workers through the filing of court reports 
and the entry of court orders. Additionally, in an attempt to reduce 
the number of courtrooms social workers must cover (which will increase 
their ability to provide direct services to families and children by 
virtue of the fact that they will be spending less time in court), CFSA 
identified approximately I200 cases for transfer to newly selected 
magistrate judges, based upon an assessment of how close the case was 
to a permanent resolution. This required specialized multiple computer 
runs and specific case analysis by social workers and supervisors. 

CFSA expended a considerable amount of staff time developing and 
negotiating a proposal for the transition of cases from the larger 
Superior Court into the dedicated Family Court. Once the proposal was 
developed, CFSA staff took up the transfer and reconciliation of 
information regarding cases so both the Court and the Agency were 
working from authoritative and shared sources. In the context of that 
transfer, CFSA and the Family Court developed a pilot project, designed 
to assess whether a particular approach to case assignment would 
shorten the road to permanency for children in care. This pilot project 
involved CFSA social workers and supervisors in three units, supported 
by CFSA senior staff who are providing direct guidance and oversight of 
the pilot. The goal of the pilot is to develop more information on the 
results for quality work, roles and relationships, and outcomes for 
children from teaming specific units of social workers with specific 
judicial officers. 

The Congress included in the Family Court Act specific language 
reflecting the "sense of the Congress" that the states of Maryland and 
Virginia and the District of Columbia should enter into a border 
agreement to facilitate the interstate placement of children. In so 
providing, Congress recognized that bureaucratic processes of the 
Interstate Compact for Placement of Children ("ICPC") often frustrated 
the goals of the Court by delaying placement of children in stable 
settings, and adversely impacting their welfare, and that reforming 
these processes through a boarder agreement was therefore an integral 
part of effective Family Court reform. Further, these same processes 
impacted social workers, who were required to search for alternative 
placements because the most appropriate placement was not in the 
District, to complete extensive ICPC paperwork, and who often needed to 
relocate children from placement to placement pending completion of the 
ICPC process. 

In view of the impact of the ICPC the Court, on children, and on 
workers in this unique setting in the District, the Mayor, through the 
Director, CFSA, quickly sought to implement this provision of the 
Family Court Act. Senior staff from the agency continue to be 
personally involved in these complex negotiations with Maryland 
officials. and numerous data runs required to identify the children 
placed in Maryland, with their addresses and their ICPC status. Data 
sharing with Maryland has been complicated by the fact it does not have 
a SACWIS system. Additionally, in order to achieve an agreement, the 
District agreed to fund two positions in Prince George's County, 
including a social worker who can conduct certain necessary 
investigations, to support the District's placement of children in 
Maryland. Finally, staff continues to work on implementing a pilot 
project with the Maryland to determine the effect of a "no denial due 
to jurisdiction" policy for foster homes. This pilot seeks to evaluate 
the effect on foster homes of requiring them to accept the next 
available child, regardless of the fact the District pays a higher rate 
for its children than does Maryland. 

In addition to the costs of negotiating the Boarder Agreement, as 
described above, the Mayor's plan also includes the costs of 
implementing the agreement, which are particularly closely linked with 
the needs of social workers. For example, in order to implement the 
licensing portion of the Boarder Agreement, we will be working with the 
licensing authorities in Maryland and the District to provide funding 
for expedited licensing of CFSA social workers in Maryland since so 
many cases overseen by the Family Court of the District of Columbia 
involve interstate work including placements in the state of Maryland. 
These expenditures are directly related to assisting CFSA social 
workers in achieving prompt permanency for children in interstate 
placements were most appropriate. 

The District appreciates the GAO's comments with respect to social 
worker involvement in the ICPC process, and looks forward to answering 
any further questions you may have in this area and others. 

Thank you for allowing the District of Columbia to provide further 
details on its plans to integrate computer systems with the Family 
Court and use of Federal funds. Please do not hesitate to contact me 
directly at (202) 727-6053, or Carolyn Graham, Deputy Mayor for 
Children, Youth, Families and Elders at (202) 727-800I, if either of us 
can be of further assistance. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

John A. Koskinen: 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: GAO Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contacts: 

Carolyn M. Taylor, (202) 512-2974, taylorc@gao.gov: 
Mark E. Ward, (202) 512-7274, wardm@gao.gov: 

Acknowledgments: 

The following individuals also made important contributions to this 
report: Patrick diBattista, Linda Elmore, Maxine Hattery, Linda 
Lambert, James Rebbe, Norma Samuel, Rachel Seid, and Marcia Washington. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Human Services: Federal Approval and Funding Processes for States’
Information Systems. GAO-02-347T. Washington, D.C.: July 9, 2002. 

Foster Care: Recent Legislation Helps States Focus on Finding
Permanent Homes for Children, but Long-Standing Barriers Remain.
GAO-02-585. Washington, D.C.: June 28, 2002. 

D.C. Family Court: Progress Made Toward Planned Transition and
Interagency Coordination, but Some Challenges Remain. GAO-02-797T.
Washington, D.C.: June 5, 2002. 

D.C. Family Court: Additional Actions Should Be Taken to Fully 
Implement Its Transition. GAO-02-584. Washington, D.C.: May 6, 2002. 

D.C. Family Court: Progress Made Toward Planned Transition, but Some 
Challenges Remain. GAO-02-660T. Washington, D.C.: April 24, 2002. 

D.C. Courts: Disciplined Processes Critical to Successful System 
Acquisition. GAO-02-316. Washington, D.C.: February 28, 2002. 

District of Columbia: Weaknesses in Financial Management System 
Implementation. GAO-01-489. Washington, D.C.: April 30, 2001. 

District of Columbia Child Welfare: Long-Term Challenges to Ensuring 
Children’s Well-Being. GAO-01-191. Washington, D.C.: December 29, 2000. 

Foster Care: Status of the District of Columbia’s Child Welfare System
Reform Efforts. GAO/T-HEHS-00-109. Washington, D.C.: May 5, 2000. 

Foster Care: States’ Early Experiences Implementing the Adoption and 
Safe Families Act. GAO/HEHS-00-1. Washington, D.C.: December 22, 1999. 

District of Columbia: The District Has Not Adequately Planned for and 
Managed Its New Personnel and Payroll System. GAO/AIMD-00-19. 
Washington, D.C.: December 17, 1999. 

District of Columbia: Software Acquisition Processes for A New 
Financial Management System. GAO/AIMD-98-88. Washington, D.C.: April 
30, 1998. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] Prior to the establishment of the Family Court in January 2002, 
judges in the Family Division and other divisions of the District’s 
Superior Court heard child welfare cases. 

[2] U. S. General Accounting Office, District of Columbia Child 
Welfare: Long-Term Challenges to Ensuring Children’s Well-Being, GAO-01-
191(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 29, 2000). 

[3] GAO-01-191. 

[4] U.S. General Accounting Office, D.C. Family Court: Additional 
Actions Should Be Taken to Fully Implement Its Transition, GAO-02-584 
(Washington, D.C.: May 6, 2002) for more details on planned reform 
practices in the District’s Family Court. 

[5] Our previous work addressed the transition plan to a family court 
and resulted in a report to Congress. GAO-02-584 and testimony on two 
occasions, once before the District of Columbia Subcommittee, Senate 
Committee on Appropriations: D.C . Family Court: Progress Made Toward 
Transition, but Some Challenges Remain, GAO-02-660T (Washington, D.C.: 
April 24, 2002) and once before the District of Columbia Subcommittee,
House Committee on Government Reform: D.C. Family Court Progress Made 
Toward Planned Transition and Interagency Coordination, but Some 
Challenges Remain, GAO-02-797T (Washington, D.C.: June 5, 2002). 

[6] P.L. 107-206 (Aug. 2, 2002). 

[7] Calendar management is a mechanism to allow for receipt and 
processing of calendar information. 

[8] Inquiry-level sharing of critical case information would enable 
caseworkers from one agency to view relevant information about a client 
contained in another agency’s system. 

[9] D.C. Courts includes the Superior Court, which is the trial court 
with general jurisdiction over virtually all local legal matters and 
the Court of Appeals, which reviews all appeals from the Superior Court 
as well as decisions and orders of D.C. government administrative 
agencies. The Family Court is part of the Superior Court. 

[10] For example, (1) the Institute of Electrical and Electronics 
Engineers, Inc., defines integration as the process of combining 
software components, hardware components, or both into an overall 
system; (2) the National Institute of Standards and Technology defines
information integration as the establishment of the appropriate computer
hardware/software, methodology, and organizational environment to 
provide a unified and shared information management capability for a 
complex business enterprise; and (3) Carnegie-Mellon University’s 
Software Engineering Institute defines software system integration as 
the practice of combining individual software components into an
integrated whole. 

[11] In addition to the six offices listed in the act, the Family Court 
Act states that the plan should address “other offices determined by 
the Mayor.” To date, the District has identified two such offices—the 
Departments of Human Services and Mental Health. 

[12] Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, P.L. 93-380, 
Title V, sec. 513. 

[13] Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, P.L. 
104-191. 

[14] U.S. General Accounting Office, District of Columbia: Weaknesses 
in Financial Management System Implementation, GAO-01-489 (Washington, 
D.C.: Apr. 30, 2001); and District of Columbia: Weaknesses in Personnel 
Records and Public Schools’ Management Information and Controls, GAO/T-
AIMD-95-170 (Washington, D.C.: June 14, 1995). 

[15] U.S. General Accounting Office, District of Columbia Child 
Welfare: Long-Term Challenges to Ensuring Children’s Well-Being, GAO-01-
191 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 29, 2000). 

[16] A legacy system is an old system with which new technology must be 
compatible. 

[17] Middleware is a type of software that permits two or more 
incompatible applications to exchange information from different 
databases. 

[18] A data mart is a database that integrates information from 
disparate sources. Data marts are separate from the systems used for 
daily business operations and are usually designed to meet a specific 
business need or problem. 

[19] Gartner, Inc., Middleware Strategies and Enterprise Data 
Integrity, Research Note #DF-13-3573 (June 12, 2001). 

[20] U.S. General Accounting Office, Executive Guide: Improving Mission 
Performance Through Strategic Information Management and Technology, 
GAO/AIMD-94-115 (Washington, D.C.: May 1, 1994); Assessing Risks and 
Returns: A Guide for Evaluating Federal Agencies’ IT Investment 
Decisionmaking, GAO/AIMD-10.1.13 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 1, 1997); and 
Executive Guide: Information Security Management, GAO/AIMD-98-68
(Washington, D.C.: May 1, 1998). 

[21] U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology Investment 
Management: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Process Maturity, 
GAO/AIMD-10.1.23, Exposure Draft (Washington, D.C.: May 1, 2000), and 
Information Technology: Enterprise Architecture Use across the Federal 
Government Can Be Improved, GAO-02-6 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 19, 2002). 
Also, the Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute 
has developed models and methods that define and determine 
organizations’ software process maturity, such as the Software 
Acquisition Capability Maturity Model (SA-CMM), Version 1.2, Software 
Engineering Institute, CMU/SEI-99-TR-002 (Apr. 1999). 

[22] GAO-01-489, U.S. General Accounting Office, District of Columbia: 
The District Has Not Adequately Planned for and Managed Its New 
Personnel and Payroll System, GAO/AIMD-00-19 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 
17, 1999), and District of Columbia: Software Acquisition Processes for 
A New Financial Management System, GAO/AIMD-98-88 (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 30, 1998). 

[23] U.S. General Accounting Office, Air Traffic Control: Complete and 
Enforced Architecture Needed for FAA Systems Modernization, GAO/AIMD-97-
30 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 3, 1997); Tax System Modernization: 
Blueprint Is a Good Start but Not Yet Sufficiently Complete to Build or 
Acquire Systems, GAO/AIMD/GGD-98-54 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 24, 1998); 
and Medicare: Information Systems Modernization Needs Stronger 
Management and Support (Washington, D.C.: Sept., 20, 2001). 

[24] U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Security: Weak 
Controls Place D.C. Highway Trust Fund and Other Data at Risk, GAO-01-
155 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, 2001). 

[25] GAO/AIMD-10.1.23, Exposure Draft. 

[End of section] 

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